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Government slowdown worries Mukesh Ambani
India is the world’s second fastest growing economy, and the hottest market after the rise of China, but top industrialists said the promise that it spurred among investors and entrepreneurs is now choked. As an embattled government fights a barrage of criticism for a series of scandals, India’s business leaders indicated that they were worried that procedural bottlenecks, corruption, delayed reforms in critical areas and the parliamentary logjam were impeding long-term growth and driving investments away from the country.
On Sunday, India’s wealthiest man and Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) chairman Mukesh Ambani joined a growing chorus of experts, urging the UPA government to push through policy reforms in critical areas at a pace that matched people’s growing aspirations.
“The Indian government needs to work at a faster pace,” Ambani told delegates at the annual India Economic Summit, organised by the World Economic Forum and Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) in Mumbai on Sunday.
“Just because we live in a democracy doesn’t mean that we should feel paralysed,” he said.
Ambani’s comments came barely a month after a group of 14 eminent corporate captains and policy analysts in their second “open letter” asked the government to speed up reforms and enact a strong lokpal bill to hasten economic progress.
“We need to get a minimum agreement saying at the end of the day we are working for all the people and we have to have a pathway to move towards 21st century governance,” Ambani said.
His views were strikingly similar to recent remarks by Premji who had said that “there is complete absence of decision-making among the leaders in the government.”
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and finance minister Pranab Mukherjee brushed aside widespread accusations of policy paralysis, but foreign and domestic investors weren’t convinced.
The government obliquely admitted that speedier reforms, especially on legislative aspects, were the need of the hour.
“We are conscious of the fact that institutions must be regulated, and markets must be regulated in a manner that over-speculation and rash decisions do not hurt the overall growth story,” Anand Sharma, commerce and industry minister, said.